Kris Russo: Confectus
July 20-26, 2019
26 Maloney Street
The Arthouse Foundation is pleased to present Confectus, a solo exhibition by artist resident Kris Russo. Confectus examines our visceral relationship with plastics, using the plastic bag as a vehicle to explore the broader social and political dynamics of a globalized world.
With its prime role in utility, the plastic bag is an object that has become ubiquitous across cultures. The plastic bag represents an idea of efficiency, sterility and cleanliness. It is a mass produced object, one that drives the movement and circulation of goods. Plastic is a symbol of international trade, consumerism and our patterns of consumption. It is also the culprit of pollution, ecological issues and environmental devastation. In short, plastic represents the slow violence of fast capitalism, conjuring dystopian nightmares.
Russo uses this raw material, and its weighted significance, to articulate narratives of enchantment. Plastic becomes a potential site for transcendental experience. She is interested in the way that phenomena can simultaneously manifest characteristics of disenchantment and fascination. The exhibition includes a series of light box installations, where multicolored layered plastic collages emit translucently through electric light. Built to be used in offices and commercial buildings, these generic light boxes morph into canvases for geometric abstraction. At times, Russo’s bright color scheme evokes the childlike wonder of confetti. In others, she references Tibetan prayer flags. Evocative of stained glass and the enlightened experiences of religious architecture, these light boxes become industrial mandalas, objects of contemplation and meditation.
In Omega and Alpha, Russo layers images pulled from the Internet on top of the light boxes, printed as transparencies. One image, a screenshot self-portrait of the artist, mirrors the pose of the Virgin Mary, a devotional icon for the social media age. In this spiritual tableau, an image of Drake, the hip-hop star, becomes the personification of the Jesus figure. Russo’s work questions notions of identity and historical memory in the age of the Internet, speaking to how technology and popular culture inform our sense of the sacred and mundane.
The exhibition is formatted as an immersive installation, a maze and space for exploration. The exhibition also includes sculptural interventions using plastic materials, as well as a video, On Plastic, where the artist interacts with the material. Through the transformation of an everyday product, Russo reframes our connection to plastic in an experiential and cathartic way.
Kris Russo is an American artist who works in installation and mixed media. Russo has recently participated in the Dak’Art Biennale as the children’s curator and created a site-specific installation for the Lagos Biennial in 2017. Russo completed a three month artist residency with the Arthouse Foundation in Lagos in 2019.
This exhibition is generously supported by hFACTOR and Sony Centre.